The Mania of WrestleMania, part one
WWE Superstars don't have the luxury of an off-season, especially if they want to compete on the grandest stage of them all. Once they sign on the dotted line of a WWE contract, drop enough elbows, deliver enough body slams and tear through enough opponents to make the WrestleMania roster, their lives become even more chaotic.
WrestleMania holds the same meaning for the Superstars as do the NBA Finals for a basketball player, the Super Bowl for a football player or The Masters (no, not Chris' parents' residence) for a pro golfer. With an event so significant and unique a little more than two weeks away, WWE Champion and World Tag Team Champion John Cena, World Heavyweight Champion Batista, and World Tag Team Champion — and perennial WrestleMania main-eventer — Shawn Michaels weigh-in on how the greatest spectacular in sports-entertainment impacts their lives both personally and professionally.
"As soon as December comes, I mentally prepare myself that my life is over until April," admitted Cena. "We're hoping for 75,000 people to show up at Ford Field, and we're looking to get more than a million pay-per-view buys. I don't want to shy away from the media because that's going to make WrestleMania even bigger. It won't get bigger without getting the word out."
Getting the word out has taken its toll on SmackDown's Animal, who told WWE.com that prepping to stay atop his sports-entertainment kingdom and promote WrestleMania has made it difficult for him to maintain his sanity. But the World Heavyweight Champion couldn't help but note the WWE Champ's zest, graciously conceding that as hectic as his life has gotten during WrestleMania season, "Cena is the busiest guy in the company. Sometimes, I don't know how he does it or has time for anything. He's a machine."
Cena doesn't consider himself a "machine." He credits his ingrained aggressive spirit and his responsibility to the WWE fans for the reason he trains with such vigor.
"Some days I'm dog-ass tired, like if I've wrestled a match and made TV, radio or other promotional appearances. But it doesn't matter— I still have to train."
With his training regimen cut in half due to WrestleMania obligations, The Champ's had to switch it up a bit when preparing for HBK. At WrestleMania 22, The Champ focused on "absolute power and strength" when he took on Triple H. This year, it's about speed and agility.
"For me, training is opponent-dependent; I'm going to train different for HBK than Umaga," he said. "I know Shawn can take a hell of an ass-whipping, and he's really quick. So instead of trying to beef up, I'm going to lose a few pounds and try to up my quickness -- which right now is way behind his."
Shawn Michaels' view differs from Batista and Cena's. Throughout his illustrious career, The Showstopper has seen WrestleMania as his time to shine. His memorable WWE Iron Man Match with Bret "Hit Man" Hart (in which he captured the WWE Championship) at WrestleMania XII, his Ladder Match at WrestleMania X with Razor Ramon and his showdown with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV are among the many instances that have made HBK someone who's expected to steal the show. This year at WrestleMania, however, he knows that it's about going above and beyond the reputation he has created.
"I'm at an age now where I need to set goals that inspire me to do things like watching my diet or training," he said. "I use WrestleMania for that. People expect me to perform at a specific level at WrestleMania; my ego gets me in a place where I have to deliver on that promise. But it's tough to train for what we do because I'm by myself and don't have a 245-pound body leaning on me. I have to create a certain amount of resistance rather than just stacking weights on a bar."
To successfully regain the WWE Championship from Cena, HBK has implemented a stricter diet, plus a range of cross-training exercises that include running on a treadmill, hitting a heavy bag, jumping rope, power lunges and riding the stationary bike for 45 minutes at a clip.
"The week before the show, I'll get to Detroit and spend a few days alone training," he said. "I get to isolate myself, clear my head and relax. Until then, WrestleMania is always in focus."